Are we making diets too complicated?

We have been dealing with obesity for a long time. Almost everyone, at some point in their life, tries to lose weight — maybe a few pounds, or maybe 100 pounds. Unfortunately, most likely we will also gain back whatever weight we lose.

Have you heard people talking before about how dieting does not work, and you need instead to make a change to your lifestyle? Yes, this is certainly true, but not many say exactly how you should change your lifestyle.

And have you ever followed a diet that involved eating lots of vegetables, less processed food, and you even started an exercise program, but when you didn’t see the results you gave up? But then you suddenly actually lost a few pounds? If yes, what happened?

Diet and exercise actually put stress on our body. Yes, it is good stress for the body. However, we are giving so much attention to what we are eating and thinking about food all day long, even looking at our watch to see how long until the next meal. But what if instead you start to focus on just one single day and one single meal at a time?

When you increase the quality of your food, most likely you will reduce your stress. Don’t forget the body needs nutrients. It doesn’t really care about the taste as long as its getting the correct nutrients that it needs. We are only thinking about how tasty food should be. And, of course, it’s great to eat delicious food. But if your goal is getting healthier, then taste does not always need to be such a big focus. And when you change your food sources you may actually find that your taste buds and your preferences will change, too. For example, have you ever tried to cut sugar in your diet for a certain time, and when you then ate it again it tasted so much sweeter than before?

Remember, this applies not just for dieting but for everything in life — whatever you focus on, positive or negative, you get more of. So try to relax your mind and increase the quality of each meal. This might just mean reducing your soda intake by half, or if you like to fry your potatoes, try baking them instead. If you never liked broccoli, then try to grill it with avocado oil or ghee.

Ultimately, calories are important. The foods you choose to eat are much more important than the number of calories. Why? Food is information. It gives signals to your hormones so the body stores it to use as an energy source. And small changes to a food can affect your body in very different ways. For example, eating wild salmon with broccoli could have a very beneficial effect, while eating the same wild salmon in gravy with broccoli and cheese could have negative effects on your body. This second example is most likely to affect your insulin levels, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, which will then cause you to crave more, even if you only just finished your meal.

So, actually, losing weight is not complicated. It’s just us who are making it complicated. Here are a few tips that might help:

w Eat only when you feel hungry. Most of us don’t know what it really feels like to feel hungry. We never give our body the chance to feel hunger;

w Eat only at the table, not on your sofa or at your desk or in the car;

w Consume enough water, which generally is around two liters (1/2 a gallon) per day, depending on your weight and how much exercise you do.

w Add good-quality food to every meal. I especially didn’t say “eat good-quality food” because you don’t need to be too strict on what you’re not eating. Instead, when you add good-quality food sources such as extra-lean protein or veggies you will most likely naturally want to eat less of the other foods that are not so beneficial;

w Don’t buy ultra-processed foods, even for your kids (it’s really not a treat for them);

w Clean up your kitchen and give away the foods that you know might trigger your hunger;

w Try to set yourself small and achievable goals so that you will have lots of wins along the way.

In the end, only you can make the change, so be sure to find your real meaning, why you want to make a change, so you will find your motivation to do so.

And, lastly, focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. And remember, you will probably inspire your family to eat healthier, too, and even your friends will want to join you. Try not to over-think. Keep it simple.

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Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.), master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro), registered yoga teacher, founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness, and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.

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